When selecting a natural food co-op store location, there are a number of characteristics that can add to, or detract from, the store’s opportunity for success or failure. Location characteristics (e.g., target demographics, lifestyle characteristics, trade area accessibility, and retail synergy) are key considerations in the store selection process.
Target demographics – A natural food co-op store has its greatest appeal to people who are better educated, with incomes that are above average, and with occupation types that are health-, education-, arts-, and sports-related. To the greatest extent possible, the co-op should be situated in the midst of such target demographics.
Lifestyle characteristics – The traditional customer of a natural food co-op makes healthy choices that keep them fit physically, mentally, and spiritually. They are more likely to be politically active and environmentally responsible. But as co-ops expand into more suburban areas, lifestyles shift toward busy, dual-income families with children with little time to educate themselves about the benefits of shopping at a co-op. Therefore, they require more education about the benefits of shopping at a co-op, which can be accomplished through a more targeted marketing approach.
Trade area accessibility – Natural food co-op stores typically have large trade areas, and need easy access from the many parts of the trade area via major surface streets (or even expressway) that are designed to carry large volumes of traffic. Access can be limited by neighborhood streets which typically do not provide widespread access, as well as natural or man-made barriers: bridges, cemeteries, industrial belts, parkland, rivers, railroad tracks, etc.
Retail synergy – The greater the selection of retail stores in the vicinity of the natural food co-op store, the stronger the allure of the co-op. This is particularly true when many of the nearby retailers have the same demographic appeal as does the co-op.
In summary, location characteristics can play an important role in helping a natural food co-op store achieve profitable levels of sales. The success of a natural food co-op store I enhanced if it has a location in the midst of a demographically in-profile customer base, a marketing approach that is most appropriate, given the lifestyle characteristics exhibited by the trade area population; and a location that is convenient with respect to trade area access and nearby retail synergy.
Grab and Go Solutions is a resource from CDS Consulting Co-op to provide easy to implement solutions to common issues facing food co-ops. Watch for future releases tackling a wide variety of topics including HR, governance, member engagement, safety, store and growth.
Brought to you by CDS Consulting Co-op consultant, Debbie Suassuna